With the week-long Lunar New Year holidays approaching in China, kids are most excited as the festive season also brings relaxation due to strict rules regarding online gaming. The Chinese government will relax regulations to allow online gaming for an extra hour each day. For years, authorities have been closely monitoring the time children spend playing online games. While many parents applauded the move, it also faced criticism for taking extreme measures to combat “internet addiction”. They chose to relax the rules during the festive season as the government claimed success in curbing the problem.
Go to Youth Mode Settings
China’s biggest festival, the Lunar New Year celebrations came with extra days and hours of online gaming news for kids this year. In 2019, authorities limited the playing time of minors to 90 minutes per weekday and banned them from playing online between 10pm and 8am. By 2021, these restrictions were tightened, with minors allowed to play online games for just one hour a day on Fridays, weekends and holidays.
Social media and game companies have built or enhanced “teenage mode” settings in their apps, similar to child lock features, to protect minors. These settings include features that limit usage, control fees, and display age-appropriate content. To prevent children from bypassing these features, some popular games have implemented real name registration and face recognition gateways. In addition, the game was suspended for more than eight months.
Following this, a report by gaming market intelligence firm Niko Partners shows that the number of young gamers will drop from 122 million in 2020 to 82.6 million in 2022. A year after the restrictions, the Game Industry Group Committee, a government-affiliated industry group, also issued a report saying that the problem of gaming addiction among minors had been “largely resolved”. The report states that more than 75 percent of minors in the country play online games for less than three hours a week, and most parents also expressed satisfaction with the new restrictions.
Game industry and psychology experts from Beijing said that regardless of restrictions, parents play a crucial role in their implementation at home. Parents are at the core of such initiatives aimed at preventing game addiction. So, a good share of the credit for the government’s decision goes to the parents who, despite their children’s anger, continued to follow it.
Beijing resident Zhong Feifei, the mother of an 11-year-old boy, said she spent less time playing games than before after the restrictions came into effect. By encouraging her daughter Zhong to make good use of the time to play with other children and do interesting activities, she completely gave up playing online games during the restricted time. Zhong, who also enjoys playing online games, refrains from doing so when spending time with his child and sets a good example by leaving the house to play with his daughter.
Speaking about this, the report of the Game Industry Group also commented that the “biggest loophole” in game restrictions is parents who help their children bypass supervision. If parents set an example, children would follow. Thus, despite the growth of underground markets for online gambling amid strict restrictions, minors will not fall into the same trap.
Solving pandemic-induced device addiction
Online gaming restrictions emerged during the pandemic, with reports of increased gaming addiction and children spending large amounts of money online. A report by the New Indian Express quoted Tao, a professional whose center treats an average of over 20 Internet-addicted children every month. He said the center saw fewer minors becoming addicted after restrictions during the pandemic. One of the reasons why many children spent so much time playing games was because they watched and learned from their parents playing games online.
That’s why not all parents agreed with the government’s tough approach. Huang Yan, mother of a 12-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son, talked about online gaming enthusiasts. He said it instilled a sense of teamwork in the children and helped them make friends. Stating that it contradicts the government’s bans, he said that the Internet, games and social media are a common trend and it is impossible to prevent children from using them. According to him, like many other parents in the gaming community, such interventions are only required when children cannot control their gaming habits.
Also Read: ‘Dear Bommai Uncle’: 2,000 students write to Karnataka CM to drop Sankey Flyover Project